LEADING OFF: Rays, Dodgers all set to meet in World Series
A look at what’s happening around the majors today:
In a most unpredictable season, the teams with the best records in each league are set to meet in the World Series. The Dodgers and Rays will open in Arlington, Texas, on Tuesday night after each finished memorable League Championship Series matchups this weekend.
Neither team has announced its starting pitcher for Game 1, but aces Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and Tyler Glasnow of the Rays are lined up to throw.
Because of their superior record, Cody Bellinger, Mookie Betts, NLCS MVP Corey Seager and Los Angeles have “home field advantage” for the neutral site Series and will bat last in Games 1 and 2, and then in 6 and 7, if necessary.
Manager Dave Roberts’ Dodgers went 43-17, the best record in the majors by eight wins. They overcame a 3-1 deficit in the NLCS, beat Atlanta 4-3 on Bellinger’s late home run in Game 7 Sunday night and reached the World Series for the third time in four years.
Rookie sensation Randy Arozarena and skipper Kevin Cash’s bullpen-rich Rays were 40-20 and topped the American League by four victories. They also won a Game 7, topping Houston 4-2 in the ALCS and earn the second World Series trip in franchise history.
Kevin Kiermaier, Mike Zunino, Blake Snell and the Rays are expected to work out at Globe Life Field a day before Game 1 of the World Series. It will be the first time that anyone on Tampa Bay’s 28-man roster in the ALCS has played at Texas Rangers’ new home with the retractable roof.
Because of the pandemic-revised schedule, the Rays and Rangers didn’t meet this season.
The Dodgers just played seven straight days at the ballpark, so they’re familiar with the surroundings. It’s not certain whether they’ll practice during an off-day.
The loaded Braves are in position to contend for the World Series again next year after they were eliminated by the Dodgers in the NLCS on Sunday night. One of the big offseason questions for the NL East champions is the status of Marcell Ozuna, who is eligible for free agency after agreeing to an $18 million, one-year contract with Atlanta in January.
Ozuna could cash in after hitting .338 with an NL-best 18 homers and 56 RBIs during the pandemic-shortened season. He also batted .255 with three homers and 11 RBIs in the playoffs. But it could be a chilly winter for free agents with baseball facing an uncertain future because of COVID-19. Ozuna’s market could get a boost if the universal designated hitter remains in place next year.
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